The lices found on human body can be divided into those that affect:

  • Body and head
  • Pubic area

They are long-shaped insects with little difference. Those affect body and head have more activity, while those affect the pubic area cling to the pubic hair with crab-like claws and do not move much.

Head Lices

This mainly affects school children and only rarely happens in adults. The way of transmission is through sharing hats or combs, or close personal contact.


The head lices make the scalp itchy. They can be seen easily with a simple magnifying glass when they move. The eggs appear as small yellow nodes tightly stuck on the hair shafts.

The back of the neck may have some red spots due to the lices bites.


The diagnosis is usually easy. The lices and their eggs can be seen by magnifying glass. The hair can be painted with Gamma Benzene Hexachloride or Malathion. These have unpleasant smell, but still need to be left on for about 12 hours before washing them off. The eggs can be combed off with a fine comb. The other family members and fellow schoolmates need to be screened and treated for if necessary, otherwise there is a high chance of cross transmission again.

Body Lices

Under normal circumstances, humans do not have body lices. It may happen only when the personal hygiene and the living environment are in an appalling situation. Sharing beddings in a low budget temporary accommodation is a major source of being infested.


Usually there are a large number of lices, which will bite and suck blood from the skin. There is intense itching with a lot of scratch marks, sometimes leading to secondary bacterial infection.

The lices are usually found not the body, but only in the beddings and clothing, where they lay eggs and hatch. The diagnosis may be missed if the doctor does not examine the clothing.


In theory once the sufferer leaves the infested environment, the condition will improve. The beddings and clothing will need to be disinfected. The itchy skin can be treated with simple calamine lotion. If the inflammation is more severe, topical steroid cream can be used. Secondary bacterial infection will be treated with oral antibiotics.

Pubis Lices

This is usually transmitted through sexual activities, although it can happen through sharing under-wears.


The lices are found on the pubic hair, but they may be present on other body hair such as the chest or the underarms. They and their eggs are clearly seen with the naked eyes. The infested area is itchy and there may be signs of biting.


Gamma Benzene Hexachloride or Malathion lotion is applied on the area and washed off after 24 hours. It can be repeated once again after 7 to 10 days, to kill the newly hatched lices. It helps but is not necessary to shave off the hair. Used under-wears need to be disinfected.

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